MBA within spec or needing replacement?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by asparagus, May 2, 2008.

  1. asparagus macrumors newbie

    Sep 4, 2006
    Greetings all,

    I recently (two days ago) got in an MBA (1.6/80) to replace a 17" 2.33 MBP that suffered an accident (car ran over it, cracked screen. HD was recovered).

    I've been reading the forums and it sounds like some people's MBA's are cooler than others. Mine has been running the fans fairly heavily, and I was wondering if the load/fan speed sounded about right or whether I should take it back in for a replacement (or MBP if irreconcilable).

    My typical load is Safari, Mail, iTunes, Parallels (for OneNote), Adium, NetNewsWire, Things, and recently word 2k8 for outlining. Fairly light load.

    On the MBP, the fans rarely ran above 2k unless I was doing something fairly cpu intensive (occasional handbrake, etc). I never really pushed it (basically same load as above, occasional videos and youtube etc.

    On the theory of similar load and high desire for portability, I moved to MBA when forced to replace the old lappy.

    The machine is beautiful and amazingly light. The screen reduction was not a problem, contrary to what I feared. However, it seems to be

    I haven't installed coolbook or any other mods. Just stock settings. I kind of hoped the machine would run properly without having to mod it.

    When I run the same load now on the MBA, the fans almost never drop below 3500. If I try to do anything that uses the hard drive (i'm talking downloading a file in safari while playing a tune in itunes) it revs up to ~4400, and can easily go to 6.2k. I've been playing with the configuration a little, so I quit adium and NNW when possible to chill the CPU off.
    The CPU is almost never below 130F, with heatsink 1 reading typically ~120. when I tell it to do something, CPU shoots up to 150 or 160F, and heatsink 1 doesn't really increase for a little while, while fans rev up like a jet.

    Are my numbers out of whack? Is my load significant? Do I need to take it in to be replaced, or are others finding similar loads generating similar results?

    My battery life is correspondingly short - haven't really run it a ton off battery, but 4.5hrs? yeah right - more like 2.5, maybe 3. Are others finding similar results?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. MazingerZ macrumors 6502


    Aug 22, 2007

    I have both a MBA and an MBP 2.4 with 4gigs of Ram. There's no way I would run that much on the MBA. The MBA is a good go to meeting laptop. I don't think Apple intended it to be a main computer.
  3. ayeying macrumors 601


    Dec 5, 2007
    Yay Area, CA
    Well, I've ran that much and then some. its capable, but dont expect the fans to be staying at 2500 forever.
  4. iSee macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    There could be a misbehaving app somewhere in there. Run Activity monitor to monitor CPU usage. When an app is open but not doing anything, its CPU % should be pretty low.

    Also, when you first use your computer, Spotlight is working away pretty hard indexing your harddrive. And you're probably loading it up with all your documents, which will keep spotlight working util things have settled down a bit. I think the spotlight indexer shows up a "msd" (or something similar) in the process list. You might need to click a button to show all processes (not just the user processes) in the process list.

    Hopefully you've just go a software issue, not a hardware one....
  5. joephish macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2003
    I usually find that the fan speed and temperature has got more to do with whatever might be blocking the ventilation at the back. Because of the flatness of the MBA, it's easy to block it, for example if you place it on a soft surface such as a bed. Even on my lap I find that it gets covered up pretty easily, so I have to lift it into the air and it usually cools down and the fan slows down.
  6. n0de macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2005
    It's Parallels + all the other apps. When I have my VM open I make sure I close all other apps. Only then it is cool and quiet.

    If the performance is OK and it is only the fan you are concerned about then you have nothing to worry about.
  7. Scott6666 macrumors 65816


    Feb 2, 2008
    Your experience is normal based on the MBA I owned.

    Which is why I returned it and purchased a MBP instead. I personally - a huge fan noise hater - am much happier with the MBP.

    It is my personal opinion that the MBA should be able to do what you are tasking it to do with no sweat but that is not the case. I think those who say that "it's not meant for that" are full of it and apologists for a poor heat dissipation design.

    I am looking forward to the next-gen MBA which will hopefully have this ironed out. Return yours for a MBP and wait.

    And try not to run over it anymore (either model really).
  8. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Although sometimes it could be runaway process, or spotlight indexing, from the sound of it, there is NO ISSUE, since OP is running Parallels.

    Even VMWare on MBP (running with other apps) will take up a good part of processing power and make the fans spin some what even with 4gb of ram. (OP is running 2 os and one of them is pretty inefficient! Think about that.)
  9. ayeying macrumors 601


    Dec 5, 2007
    Yay Area, CA
    I did not find that issue on my SR MBP. I can run Vista (1.25GB ram dedicated), Ubuntu (512MB ram) and XP (512MB ram) and the fans would not be above 2000 rpm unless I'm running a defrag/seti@home on all 3 VMs at once. Granted the system will get hot, CPU runs about 80+ deg C but fans never went above 2000 rpm. Heck, my fans didn't even spin up when I played Call of Duty 4 in boot camp with majority of the settings turned to High/1440x900 res.
  10. asparagus thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 4, 2006
    I'm thinking it's more than just that simple. I suspect other factors (virtual memory, file paging, etc.) are what drives the fan and heat problems. I think the hard drive is truly the limiting point.

    Just to compare: currently running: Safari, Mail, itunes, Parallels w/OneNote, Word and Adium. Parallels keeps reporting ~7-8% cpu usage.

    fans are chilling at 2500.

    however, opening NNW will cause them to ramp up to 4400, and after all feeds are refreshed, it still hums away around 3500. Even when reporting (via activity monitor) that it's using 0% CPU.

    thus I think it's more of a critical level of apps that are Virtual Memory is currently ~12 gigs. when I open a couple of more apps, it goes above some critical point and the cpu has to swap through hd too much and it starts getting hot.

    does that sound logical to others?


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